Nittany Lions Thinking Big

Penn State players confident they can contend for conference and national titles in 2007. According to fifth-year senior running back Austin Scott, it is one of the reasons he decided to redshirt last season.

They may not have the rings yet, but they do have their patter down. The members of the Penn State football team are talking openly about contending for the Big Ten and national championships in 2007. The way the players see it, both are realistic possibilities.

“We say it because we believe it,” quarterback Anthony Morelli said Tuesday. “That’s what every team in the Big Ten wants to do. They all want the Big Ten championship, and every team in the country wants to win the national championship. So it’s a motivating thing for us to say. When you say it, you have to mean it. You have to go to work and practice hard.”

Austin Scott was just as unequivocal about contending for league and national titles. Said the fifth-year senior tailback: “We definitely feel that we can legitimately do both.”

The Nittany Lions have won two national championships, the most recent coming in 1986. Morelli was 18 months old when Penn State defeated Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2, 1987. Scott was 21 months old.

Both, however, were on campus for the most recent of Penn State’s two Big Ten championships. The two players served as reserves on the 2005 Orange Bowl squad.

Scott’s shining moment as a collegian occurred at the end of that season as he filled in for an injured Tony Hunt against Florida State and rushed for a game-high 110 yards on 26 carries in the Nittany Lions’ 26-23 victory.

Scott would like to reprise that performance this fall and believes he will have the help he needs to do so. Indeed, he said the reason he opted to redshirt last fall was because he felt the team would have a shot at winning it all in 2007.

“I wanted to be a national champion, and we had just lost to Notre Dame in the second game,” he said. “That was a big deciding factor. I was looking at redshirting as one of my options, and I weighed the pros and cons. Anthony was going to be a senior, the line was going to have another year under their belts. I just figured it was a better situation for us to win the national championship.”

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